Choose a peer-reviewed scientific paper from the primary literature (you can browse the "course readings" blog posts for suggestions, or just find your own paper of interest), write a short summary of the paper, including the following elements:
Purpose: 2 - 4 sentences
Methods: 1 - 2 sentences
Results: 2 - 4 sentences
And then write a bit (4 - 8 sentences) about how this study might be of interest to people practicing invertebrate conservation biology in Palau. This might require a bit of background reading, or you're welcome to come talk to Dr. Rundell or Jesse about it for ideas!
For those of you who have taken (or are taking) EFB 311, this will be a little like your Darwin Day posters, but without the figures. Avoid long quotations (and, obviously, don't plagiarize), and try to write for a general audience.
Economo EP and Sarnat EM. 2012. Revisiting the ants of Melanesia and the taxon cycle: historical and human-mediated invasions of a tropical archipelago. Am Nat 180: E1–16.
Economo and Sarnat describe the patterns of ant species richness and evolutionary history in Fiji, especially as they pertain to forest age and elevation. The authors do this with the framework of EO Wilson’s taxon cycle hypothesis, which predicts patterns of ant evolution on islands. EO Wilson wrote that ants that are more recent arrivals to islands in evolutionary time are more likely to live in edge habitats and/or secondary forests, whereas ants whose ancestors arrived on islands earlier on are more likely to live in less anthropogenically disturbed, interior, old-growth forests. However, EO Wilson predicted these things before we could confidently re-construct the evolutionary history of organisms, so Economo and Sarnat are among the first to test his ideas in a robust way.
The authors bring together information on both ant distributions (based mostly on their own collection data) and phylogenies (based on DNA sequences). The authors focus on the genus Pheidole, which is the most species-rich ant genus (both in Fiji and in the world).
The ants with the deepest evolutionary history in Fiji tend to be from high elevation and interior forests. Anthropogenically introduced ants are most likely to be found in the lowlands. These findings are consistent with Wilson's (1959, 1961) observations about the way taxa are distributed in Melanesian islands, but do not form a full component of a "cycle."
Significance for Palau:
Palau probably has between half and 66% of the ant species richness that Fiji has, but it's species richness is divided up very differently. As far as we know (Jesse writing in early 2018), there are not any evolutionarily deep (>5my) radiations of ants in Palau. Most species are either recently diverged within the archipelago, or more closely related to something in nearby, larger islands (esp. PNG or Mindanao). Palau also doesn't have any elevation that exceeds ~200m, but has much more intact lowland tropical rainforest (mostly on the limestone karst), so the distribution of endemic species is likely to be somewhat different than the distribution of endemism in Fiji. The extent to which taxa diversify in islands seems to be related to dispersal ability and island area: organisms that are good at dispersing (e.g., birds, bats) don't diversify in small islands, but organisms that are poor dispersers (e.g., snails) often do. Different ants likely span the range of dispersal ability between small birds and diplommatinid snails, so they're kind of a cool taxon to examine for patterns of endemism. In general, this paper is an important one to read in the broader context of terrestrial conservation in tropical Pacific islands, but it also stands in contrast to many of the distinct features of Palau and its biota.